Venus and Florida
I got to the Manhattan side of the ferry to Staten Island in the nick of time to catch the ferry. The doors were already closing, but the guard held them open for me.
I sat up my busking gear at the Music Under New York spot at the St. George ferry terminal.
A guy asked me: “At what time does a dog bite a man?”
Saw Lady: “when a man annoys a dog?”
A guy standing near us was listening to the conversation and he said as he pointed to one of the police dogs in the terminal: “wait a minute, I’m gonna go ask that dog over there… ”
Saw Lady: “I give up – tell me”.
Guy: “When the dog closes its mouth ”
The guy proceeded to ask me two more such riddles.
A guy told me that the actress Nanette Fabray used to play the musical saw. She did MGM musicals, such as ‘The Bandwagon’ with Oscar Levant (a movie which I like for its great dance numbers). He saw her on TV “playing with saws”, he said. I wonder if that was in the TV show ‘Westinghouse Playhouse’ (also known as the ‘The Nanette Fabray Show’) in an episode titled ‘I Seen the Saw’ (1961).
“She might be still alive”, he said, “but if she is than she is very old”. (I found out later she died in 1981).
A lady standing near-by said she will look up this actress, too. She also said: “you should play a hammer, or a screwdriver, too”.
Nanette Fabray (right) with Fred Astair, Jack Buchanan, Cyd Charisse and Oscar Levant
A guy told me he is 67 years old. He asked me when the song “I’m Always Chasing Rainbows” (which I was playing) is from. I told him I don’t know but that it is based on a classical music piece (Fantaisie-Impromptu by Frédéric Chopin). He said it must be very old, because when he was young, during the war in the 40’s, they played this song on the radio all the time.
Two ladies from the Philippines, sisters named Venus and Florida, told me that their family is originally from Portugal. They only recently discovered that their family was originally Jewish. They were raised Catholic, but they never had a Christmas tree in their home. Their father kept saying that he thinks they were originally Jewish. Eventually these ladies were able to trace their roots back and verified this.
Joel, a poet who was at the ‘Poetry Project’ a couple of days ago when I accompanied a poetry recitation there, happened by. He works as a social worker on Staten Island.
A guy who works at the terminal told me that he likes it when I play the theme from ‘Titanic’. I told him I thought this song is appropriate for the space, since it’s about a boat and all my listeners are about to board a boat. He agreed with me. He asked me if I could play it again, so I did.
The sanitation worker came to say ‘hi’. He will be done working 1/2 an hour after me, but he started at 10am…(way before me).
On the ferry back home a guy was telling me about Brahms pieces for clarinet, which he thinks sound as lyrical as the musical saw. He used to play clarinet but now he plays an electric wind instrument.